New Alcohol Policy Research

What is the number one thing that people ask about cruising? Perhaps the most popular question is “Can I bring my own alcohol on board?”

Back in the 70’s, my parents always brought a bottle or two of bourbon or scotch to have in their room. They’d pour a little starter to have in their room while getting ready for dinner. In this day and age, most cruise lines have policies that prohibit BYOB.

There are several likely reasons behind these policies – safety and revenue generation. Safety is always a concern to cruise ships lines. They really don’t want to have the negative publicity when a passenger gets hurt and goes overboard, or worse. By prohibiting alcohol from being brought on, theoretically, they have more control over the amount of alcohol consumed.

With the increase in cruising popularity and the desire to attract more customers by keeping upfront cost low, cruise lines stand to make a good deal of money by having a monopoly on alcohol sales to passengers. Passengers drinking their own booze would be bypassing that monopoly. So as a result, most cruise lines have adopted strict no BYOB policies. The policy may be in the cruise document, the passenger code of conduct, or simply posted on a sign near the gangway. The exception seems to be the the higher end luxury lines, which often have alcohol inclusive or semi-inclusive in the cruise fair.

Finally, the next question that comes up is “How strictly is the policy enforced?”. This one is really hard to gauge. You’ll talk to one person who said that their luggage was searched and their booze confiscated. The next person you talk to will say they brought it on board right in front of security and nothing was ever said. Passengers can even be denied boarding or disembarked if they violate the alcohol policy.

What we’ve put together is a summary of the alcohol policies of most of the major cruise lines. If you have any input or comments regarding the policies, or if you note a recent change to the policy, please let us know via our contact page.